ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys will face a salary cap challenge when it comes to signing Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs and eventually Micah Parsons to lucrative contract extensions, but executive vice president Stephen Jones is not fearful.
“I feel like as we move forward it will all be about timing, but we feel like we can work within the parameters of the cap and make those type of things happen,” Jones said Wednesday after a news conference where the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) announced it will host its World Finals at AT&T Stadium.
Diggs, who has been named to the Pro Bowl the past two years, is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Cowboys put the $17.99 million fifth-year tender for 2024 on Lamb, who has been named to the Pro Bowl the past two years. Prescott is signed through 2024 as well, while the Cowboys cannot approach Parsons, a Pro Bowler in each of his first two seasons, about a long-term deal until after the 2023 season.
“We want to work on all of the above, but we’ll just have to see how this thing plays out,” Jones said. “You can’t dictate when things happen and the timing. It takes two sides. For them to want to sign up, they’ve got to be happy where it is. And vice versa. But I wouldn’t say just because we don’t get it done by the start of the season doesn’t mean we’re not going to ultimately sign them.”
At a recent charity event, Diggs and Lamb expressed optimism about remaining with the Cowboys.
“Hopefully something gets figured out,” Diggs said. “I love Dallas. I love being here, so, you know, we’ll see.
Said Lamb, “Dallas is somewhere I always wanted to be. I don’t see myself really wearing any other jersey. Don’t want to get too much into detail on that, but I’m definitely excited for the future.”
Without an extension by March, the Cowboys could put the franchise tag on Diggs. They have used the tag in each of the past six seasons, including this year on running back Tony Pollard. Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander is the highest-paid cornerback at $21 million per season, one of three corners to make at least $20 million.
“It’s not daunting,” Jones said when asked about the cornerback and wide receiver market. “I think it’s doable. It’s just part of managing your football team, a part of managing the salary cap. But I certainly think it’s doable.”
Prescott is one of 11 quarterbacks making $40 million a year. So far this offseason, the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles have signed their quarterbacks — Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts, respectively — to deals averaging $52 million and $51 million a year. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers are looking to sign quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, respectively, to massive extensions, and the Kansas City Chiefs could do the same with Patrick Mahomes.
“We’re already at a big number with Dak,” Jones said. “So, when the really daunting part comes is when you move them from a rookie contract to making the type of money quarterbacks make now.”
It took almost two years of talks for Prescott to sign his four-year, $160 million deal in 2021.
“That’s stuff I leave to the Cowboys, and I leave to my agent,” Prescott said a few weeks ago. “They got it done years ago and when it comes time to get it done again, I trust in both of them. And as Stephen said, it might happen overnight, who knows? But that’s not any of my concern or in my thought process.”
Parsons, a first-round pick in 2021, is not eligible for an extension until after his third season. He has finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting in each of his first two seasons, splitting time at linebacker and as an edge rusher. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at $31.7 million a year, a number Parsons could threaten.
“He’s a great defensive football player,” Jones said of Parsons. Whether he’s making 10-plus sacks a year at linebacker or defensive end, I don’t think it’s a big difference. He’s so versatile.”